Judge Sykes was nominated to the Seventh Circuit by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the Senate in 2004. Prior to her appointment to the federal bench, Judge Sykes served as a justice on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Governor Tommy G. Thompson appointed her in September 1999 to fill a mid-term vacancy on the state supreme court, and she was elected to a full ten-year term in April 2000. From 1992-1999, Judge Sykes served on the state trial bench in Milwaukee County (elected in 1992 and re-elected in 1998). From 1985-1992, Judge Sykes practiced law with the Milwaukee firm of Whyte & Hirschboeck, S.C., and from 1984-1985, was a law clerk to Federal Judge Terence T. Evans.
Born and raised in the Milwaukee area, Judge Sykes earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University in 1980 and a law degree from Marquette University Law School in 1984. Between college and law school, Judge Sykes worked as a reporter for The Milwaukee Journal.
Judge Sykes has two sons.